Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Orecchiette with Mini Chicken Meatballs

I had fallen back into my same ol', same ol' dinners again when I saw this recipe and thought it would be a good one to try out.  I made it tonight for dinner and it was deeeeelicious!! I will definitely make it again.  The meatballs have a nice light texture with a fresh taste.  Give it a try!

source:  www.foodnetwork.com
courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

1 pound orecchiette pasta (I couldn't find that so I used mini bow tie pasta)
1/4 c plain bread crumbs (I used italian because that is what I had)
1/4 c chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp whole milk
1 tbsp ketchup
3/4 c grated romano
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper
1 lb ground chicken
1/4 c olive oil
1 1/2 c chicken stock
4 c cherry tomatoes ( I used 1 qrt of canned tomatoes from my garden)
1/2 c grated parmesan freshly grated
8 ounces bocconcini mozzarella balls
1/2 c chopped fresh basil leaves


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 min.

In a medium bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, parsley, eggs, milk, ketchup, romano cheese, and the salt and pepper.  Add the chicken and gently stir to combine.

Using a melon baller, form the chicken mixture into 3/4 inch pieces.  With damp hands, roll the chicken into mini meatballs.

In a large skillet,  heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Working in batches, add the meatballs and cook without moving until brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes.  Turn the meatballs over and brown the other side, about 2 minutes longer.
(I did a few this way, but since I doubled the batch, I cooked the majority on a cookie sheet in the oven, that worked great and they were very tender)

Add the chicken stock and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil.  Using a wooden spoon, scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan.

Reduce heat to low and simmer until tomatoes are soft and meatballs are cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Drain pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water.  Transfer to a large serving bowl and add the parmesan.  Toss to lightly coat the pasta, adding reserved water if needed.  

Add the meatball mixture,  mozzarella cheese, and 1/2 cup of basil.  Gently toss to combine.  Garnish with the chopped basil.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Submitted by Heather
I've made broccoli cheese soups before, but they never seem to live up to the kinds I've had at restaurants.  Some have had off flavors (too much garlic?) and some have been too thin.  When I eat this kind of soup, I want something that is thick and creamy and this soup fits the bill.  It was so comforting on one of those dreary, overcast days.  You can serve it in a bread bowl, or as I did, with a slice of homemade wheat bread  (I just hate wasting all that good bread in a bread bowl!).

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Note: While the soup is coming together, put the chopped broccoli in a large glass bowl, cover with saran wrap and microwave for about 3-4 minutes. It cooks perfectly and just in time to add it to the soup.

*Serves 4

1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 small onion, diced
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, preferably sharp or extra sharp
1/2 cup shredded swiss cheese
2 1/2 to 3 cups chopped, lightly steamed or blanched broccoli

Simmer chicken broth and chopped onion for 15-20 minutes in a covered small saucepan, until onions are soft.* Heat milk in microwave for 1-2 minutes. In a separate medium-sized stockpot, melt butter then add flour, salt and pepper. Cook together, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, then whisk in warmed milk. Stir and heat together on medium heat until soup starts to thicken, about 5-8 minutes. Add warmed chicken broth and continue to stir until well blended. Add cheeses and stir until completely melted. Stir in seamed broccoli. Add more salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Serve immediately.

*Once the onions are soft, I pureed the onion broth mixture with an immersion blender.  I was hoping that no onion chunks would mean my kids would have one less reason to pick at the soup!

Source: adapted from melskitchencafe.com

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Submitted by Heather

There are many salted caramel recipes everywhere you look these days. While other recipes combine the caramel with brownies or cakes, this one showcases the lovely caramel flavor without any competition. It is smooth, and caramelly (not sure that's a word...) and salty and perfect. It does involve a couple of steps, but if you could taste the goodness that awaits you at the end of this process you wouldn't bat an eye at what you have to do to get there.

I don't make ice cream very often, but I can't wait to make this one again. I initially planned on making chocolate ice cream, but I'm so glad I noticed this recipe and changed my mind. I brought it to an ice cream themed baby shower, where there were many delicious offerings. I think we should have more occasions where there's an ice cream bar - it was an awesome idea! My favorite way to eat this ice cream is to serve it with toasted pecans that have been tossed with browned butter.  

Note: I actually made this ice cream a teeny, tiny bit lighter based on some recommendations from the comments in the recipe.  You can make the recipe as written below, or reduce the heavy cream to 1 1/4 C. and substitute 1 C. half and half for the other cup of heavy cream.  It was divine lightened, so I'm sure it's even better with all cream!

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Yield: Makes about 1 quart
Active Time: 30 min
Total Time: 4 hr

1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
2 1/4 cups heavy cream, divided
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt such as Maldon (or 1/2 -3/4 tsp kosher salt)*
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk
3 large eggs

*I don't know what the substitution would be if you used regular table salt, but I'm guessing not more than 1/4 tsp.

Equipment: an ice cream maker

Heat 1 cup sugar in a dry 10-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring with a fork to heat sugar evenly, until it starts to melt, then stop stirring and cook, swirling skillet occasionally so sugar melts evenly, until it is dark amber.  Note: make sure to get the caramel a nice medium-dark brown. If the caramel is too light the finished product won't have an intense enough caramel flavor, though I'm sure it would still be good.

 Just the sugar - melted until a dark amber
 Caramel with cream added

Warm 1 1/4 cups cream in the microwave and add to the caramel (mixture may splatter) Cook, stirring, until all of caramel has dissolved. Transfer to a bowl and stir in sea salt and vanilla. Cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, bring milk, remaining cup cream, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar just to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring occasionally.

Lightly whisk eggs in a medium bowl, then add half of hot milk mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Pour back into saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until custard coats back of spoon and registers 170°F on an instant-read thermometer (do not let boil). Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, then stir in cooled caramel.

Chill custard, stirring occasionally, until very cold, 3 to 6 hours. Freeze custard in ice cream maker (it will still be quite soft), then transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to firm up.  Ice cream keeps 1 week.

Source: Slightly adapted from Epicurious.com

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Crisp Oatmeal Cookies

 These have become my new favorite cookie.  I just love how the edges have a crunch and the inside has a chewy texture.  You can mix in some of your favorites aslo!  Even the kids like these. They don't like the soft oatmeal ones, but these are gone instantly.  Enjoy!

Source:  www.allrecipes.com
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup flaked coconut (optional) I toast it
1/2 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate I use white
chips (optional)
I add 1/2 cup macadamia nuts or peanuts
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.

In a large bowl, cream together the shortening, white sugar and brown sugar. Mix in the egg and vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; stir into the batter until well blended. Mix in the oats, coconut and chocolate chips until evenly distributed. Roll dough into walnut sized balls and place 2 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheets.

3.Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are lightly browned.